Before I started Year Up, I was a product of the streets. With guidance and support, I am now a product of success.

I was a part-time student at Truman College and working part-time at Jimmy Johns. I took a break from school because I could no longer afford it. With a lot of free time, I began associating with old friends, and making wrong decisions. My only goal at the time was staying alive and out of jail.

Then I saw a segment about Year Up on ABC 7 News. I thought it was too good to be true. After I researched the program, I realized Year Up might be a good opportunity. I took a chance and applied.

During the classes, I learned to trust and work with other people and to communicate effectively in a professional environment. The hardest part was staying focused because, during that time, a close friend had been killed. I had a lot of bad thoughts running through my head after his death. However, the entire Year Up staff was very caring and understanding about my situation.

I interned at CareerBuilder as a Hiring Solutions Specialist, consulting with companies to connect them with employees. I didn’t know what to expect, being the first Year Up student to intern at CareerBuilder. I was surprised at how my coworkers accepted me. All my life, people judged me by my appearance without knowing anything about me. But CareerBuilder welcomed me with open arms. They didn’t care about my past; they were only concerned about my future.

Networking was the most important skill I learned throughout Year Up and CareerBuilder. As my internship was ending, I knew CareerBuilder was where I wanted to start my career. I was not offered a position right away, but higher management showed interest in me. I reached out to managers in every department through LinkedIn and contacted them concerning available opportunities, and in two months, I was hired.

Now, I work full time at CareerBuilder maintaining relationships with existing clients while continuously ensuring that recruitment and marketing solutions are delivering full value. I love what I do because, essentially, I help people find jobs. I plan to grow within my company to reach my long-term goal of becoming a Project Manager for recruitment or marketing campaigns. With CareerBuilder’s assistance, I plan to go back to school at Harold Washington College.

If it had not been for Year Up, I would be on a path of self-destruction. Young adults need mentoring and the presence of positive role models in their lives. Using my resources at Year Up helped me stay focused and positive. I hope students who struggled like I did receive the mentoring and support they need and deserve.